Relationship satisfaction during COVID-19: The role of partners' perceived support and attachment

Yael Bar-Shachar, Sagi Lopata, Eran Bar-Kalifa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The main goal of this study was to examine the interplay between individuals' attachment insecurity and their perceptions of their partners' COVID-related behaviors (supportive and negative behaviors) in predicting their relationship satisfaction. Background: Stress is a well-documented risk factor for relationship satisfaction. COVID-19 related stressors thus pose a challenge to maintaining relationship satisfaction. Although partners' supportive behaviors can play a central role in mitigating these stressors, enduring individual vulnerabilities, such as attachment insecurity, are likely to moderate the effectiveness of supportive (or negative) behaviors. Method: In this two-wave study, conducted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, 239 participants in cohabiting Israeli couples reported their current relationship satisfaction and perceived partners' supportive and negative behaviors in response to COVID-related stress. Participants' pre-COVID reports of relationship satisfaction and attachment orientations were used to assess the extent to which partners' supportive/negative behaviors interacted with attachment orientations to predict relationship satisfaction maintenance during the first lockdown in Israel. Results: Higher levels of support and lower levels of negative behaviors were associated with greater relationship satisfaction maintenance. Anxiously attached individuals showed greater sensitivity to their partners' support, whereas avoidantly attached individuals manifested lower reactivity to their partners' negative behaviors. Conclusions: Perceived partners' supportive and negative behaviors can predict relationship satisfaction during stressful times. However, high attachment anxiety and low attachment avoidance may render individuals more sensitive to such behaviors. Implications: The results suggest that during times of stress, it is essential to target partners with attachment insecurity to strengthen their supportive skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalFamily Relations
Volume72
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Council on Family Relations.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • attachment
  • perceived support
  • romantic relationships

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